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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Wisconsin hospital is powered by beer and cheese

Gundersen Lutheran Hospital, in La Crosse, Wis., aims to be energy independent by 2014. Hospitals use a ton of energy, so that's a tough goal to meet. But Gundersen is getting there by piggybacking on Wisconsin’s best-known industries: beer and cheese.

Beer and cheese, while delicious, both slough off a lot of gas while they're being made. (Not to mention after they’re consumed.) The hospital system has been sourcing biogas from a local brewery and from a dairy farm that makes mascarpone and fresh mozzarella cheese. And recently the system started getting gas from a La Crosse landfill, as well.

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Critical List: Eating organic makes people judgey; U.S. selling drones to Iraq to protect oil

Eating organic food makes people more judgmental about others' actions and less altruistic, according to a totally bogus study.

The U.S. is selling drones to Iraq to protect oil exports.

White-tailed deer are eating so many leaves, they're keeping migratory birds from being able to build their nests.

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Global warming makes syrup taste gross

Photo by Musebrarian.

We've known for a while that climate change will threaten supplies of our favorite foods, like wine and bourbon. (Oh, and bacon, coffee, chocolate, oysters, and pecan pie.) But the optimists among us took this news with good humor. "Oh sure, our favorite foods and intoxicants might be a little scarcer," these imaginary chirpy little shits said, "but that will make every mouthful more precious." Well, not when it comes to maple syrup, sucker! Climate change isn't just making it scarcer -- it's making it taste way worse.

Read more: Climate Change, Food

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9-year-old’s lunch blog shames school into making changes

Martha Payne had some sad-ass lunches at her school in Scotland -- unsatisfying food that sometimes had more hair than vegetables. So the 9-year-old decided to start a blog with photos and vital statistics about her meals. Almost immediately, the blog got international attention, including from prominent school lunch busybody Jamie Oliver. Result? Martha's dad just met with the local council, and it announced that kids could have unlimited salad, fruit, and bread.

Read more: Food, School Lunches

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Giant snake and giant turtle were besties

Artist's conception.

You couldn't have a one-ton snake today -- the climate's just too moderate for a cold-blooded creature that size. But back when the planet was warmer by nature, all kinds of terrifying mega-reptiles roamed the Earth. So, in anticipation of global warming, maybe we should start preparing for how to coexist with snakes the size of buses. Lesson one: Apparently they pal around with giant turtles.

Read more: Animals, Climate Change

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The Great Billboard War of 2012

Heartland's crazy billboard featuring crazies was quickly pulled down, but climate groups are fighting fire with fire -- or, in this case, billboard with billboard. Forecast the Facts came up with this lovely specimen:

But Clear Channel, which apparently controls the billboard system in Chicago, was having none of it, and would not approve it. The company did, however, give its blessing to a sign from Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, which asks, more tamely, “Who to believe on climate? Heartland … or EVERY National Scientific Academy in the world?” Zing.

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Critical List: Massive tariffs for Chinese solar panels; Bike to Work Day

The Commerce Department announced that the U.S. could put tariffs of up to 250 percent on Chinese solar panels imported into the country.

It's Bike to Work Day!

First the Arizona Congress wanted crazy legislation to ban all government work on sustainability, now it's the New Hampshire Congress. So trendy!

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The answer to our fuel woes might be monster sweet potatoes

Corn ethanol is a good idea in theory -- what's more renewable than a fuel source you plant and harvest every year? But corn is such an inefficient energy source that if we wanted to meet our biofuel goals with corn ethanol alone, they'd have to shoulder out every other crop. You know what yields more ethanol per acre than corn, though? Sweet potatoes. And you know what yields more ethanol per acre than sweet potatoes? GIANT MOTHERFUCKING SWEET POTATOES OF DOOM.

Read more: Biofuel

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The only real way to save on car insurance

Oh sure, you could hang around with lizards and cavemen and pink-haired spy chicks and that irritating "Fran" woman, trying to save a few bucks. Or you could cut to the chase.

Read more: Biking

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Butt-driven scooters are like Segways, but lazier

The Segway wasn't always just the transportation of choice for out-of-shape mall cops and tourists who can't be bothered to walk from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. When it was introduced, the idea was that it would render cars obsolete, making "walking" so quick and effortless that urban planners would be forced to start building cities at human scale.

Instead, a decade later, we're asking "hey, is there any way we could have a similar technology, but even lazier?" Honda has your answer. Its Uni-Cub is battery-powered and balance-controlled like a Segway, but instead of steering by shifting weight from foot to foot, you sit down and steer by shifting weight from cheek to cheek. Phew! All that standing still was getting really exhausting.

Read more: Transportation